Monday, March 11, 2013

Ferryman on the Shore of Night / Katrien Rutten

Reviewed by: SingleEyePhotos

Genre: Fantasy/Short Story

Approximate word count: 4-5,000 words

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Herek is a fisherman, one amongst many of the fisherfolk of his village. Fishermen they may be, but they have a more exalted duty as well.


This story was originally published in Weird Tales magazine as Shore of Night, Shore of Day.

One day Herek comes home from his work to find that his son has let a guest into their house. A beautiful, obviously wealthy, woman. With a pet pig. And a demand. Herek tries to refuse her, but she insists. So, that night, when he makes the monthly journey from the Shore of Night to the Shore of Day, he brings her with him in his boat. Along with the pig. And the spirits of all those who have died during the prior month.

This is a very short story, only about 12 printed pages. It was a very quick read, and I initially dismissed it as a spinoff of the story of Charon, the ferryman of the dead – a good enough story, but not something special. Then 
I found myself thinking back on it for the next few days, and I realized there was a great deal more there than first met the eye.

In those 12 pages, the author manages to capture an array of emotions: love and despair; grief and anger; hopelessness and fatalism. The characters are only briefly sketched, and there is no room for full character development, but they are bitingly real, and stick with you long after the story is finished. Those who have everything to live for wish to die; those who lead a life of toil and poverty have a gleaming hope that does not let them despair.

There’s a great deal going on beneath the surface of this story. It’s well worth reading, but be prepared to do some hard thinking when you’re done.

Format/Typo Issues:

None noted.

Rating: **** Four stars

1 comment:

Walter Knight said...

It has always amased me when a young beautiful person wants to kill herself, and someone old and wretched is happy enough to savor life and want to keep living.

The world can be a sad place, and depression a killer.